Friday, February 4, 2011
Interview with Emly Forrest
Today I'm sitting down with Emly Forrest, author of The Last Resort.
Clara: You write primarily contemporary romance. Tell us a little why you chose to write in this genre.
Emly: They always say "Write what you know" and I only know the thoughts and feelings of contemporary women. I suppose that nothing much has changed over the years in the way women fall in love, but I prefer to speak in the voice of a twenty-first century woman. that said, I do believe that social mores and conventions influence love as much as any other aspect of life. I'm most comfortable with those of our times and with the freedom and acceptability of sexual expression that has evolved in the last thirty or forty years.
Clara: What did it feel like to get your first acceptance?
Emly: I couldn't stop jumping up and down and laughing. I had to read the acceptance message four times to really believe that it wasn't a rejection. It was umbrella-drinks-at-the-beach good.
Clara: What is the best (and worst) part of the writing process?
Emly: What I love most is that zone that I fall into when writing where the characters take over and begin to say and do things that I hadn't really planned or intended. It's nearly mystical for me. The worst part is when I reread something I've written and can only think, "Crap, that really sucks!"
Clara: How long does it typically take you to finish a story?
Emly: Not sure I have an answer to that. The Last Resort (Lyrical Press 2010) evolved over several years. My latest story Irish Ice (a novella, Lyrical Press March 2011) came together very quickly and easily in a month or so. A novel I'm currently working on rolled out very quickly at first, but now I'm stuck on the last few chapters. I guess it all depends on that pesky muse.
Clara: Do you have any favorites out of the characters you've written?
Emly: I'm very much in love with Lee Soloman, the biker bad boy from The Last Resort. He's based on a man I knew many years ago and have never quite forgotten. I've always hoped he never quite forgot me as well.
Clara: Which writers inspired/influenced your work?
Emly: I wouldn't be so bold as to even suggest that some of my favorite authors allowed me to produce work as fine as theirs. I can only aspire to their greatness. However, those I love include James Lee Burke, Barbara Kingsolver, Annie Proulx, Stephen King, Dennis Lehane, and Pete Hamill.
Clara: Was there ever a point in your career where you said, "Yeah, I can do this!"?
Emly: Maybe I'm overconfident, but I guess I never thought I couldn't do it. I've been writing and editing for the biggest part of my long professional life (and making a pretty good living at commercial writing), so I knew I had a least a bit of talent. I wasn't quite as sure about writing fiction, but I've never been known to shy away from challenge.
Clara: Was there ever a point in your career where you almost gave up writing?
Emly: Never. It wasn't an option. Even if I never published a work of fiction, I'd still keep doing it. Writing is the only talent I have--modest though it may be. It's a part of me. Just something I have to do.
Clara: How do you come up with your stories?
Emly: My husband and my friend Jan provide my biggest story inspirations. They throw stuff at me--some of which makes little sense at the time--and I try to work it into a story. For instance, one time my husband told me about a dream he'd had involving two guys named Nacho Nate and Big Bob the Mover. I've not put them into a story yet, but I know they're lurking there waiting to be developed.
Clara: What do you do to overcome writer's block?
Emly: Keep writing. Even if I know what I'm writing stinks. I make myself write at least 500 words a day--good, bad or otherwise. No excuses and no backing down. I can always go back and rewrite or delete later.
Clara: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Emly: Write every day. Read a lot. Don't listen to anyone who tells you your work is no good. It's only their opinion. I was privileged to attend the University of Denver Publishing Institute years ago. At one of our classes, a publisher at a major house told about rejecting the manuscript for Jonathan Livingston Seagull, which was published by another house and became wildly successful financially. It seemed like a stupid story idea, but you just never know what's going to take hold and sell. At the same time, do pay attention to critiques of your work by friends, family and critique partners. Good advice is invaluable to good writing.
Clara: Thank you for joining me, Emly! Visit Emly online at www.emlyforrest.com.
Be sure to stop by next week to hear about Larion Wills and her story It's Still Tomorrow.